Open Educational Resources – are we really open to the idea?

Open Educational Resources. Only one careful owner. Completely free to all interested parties. Terms and conditions apply.

As sales pitches go, you would be hard pressed to find a better bargain – well in theory at least.  Who wouldn’t be lured by the promise of something free? Wouldn’t we all like to avoid the old chestnut of ‘reinventing the wheel’ in teaching?  What’s not to like about contributing to a shared understanding and a global community?  But something isn’t quite adding up. Although the OER Research Hub has found that faculty who use OERs are very positively disposed to them (OERRHub, 2015), there appears to be a gap in awareness (Allen & Seaman, 2014) or perhaps worse, a fundamental disinclination to use them or contribute resources of one’s own.

I’ve been asked to facilitate a NIDL Hot Topic session at DCU on Friday October 16 where maybe we’ll find some interesting answers.  It’s titled: “Open Educational Resources: unknown, unused and unloved?”  The format of these sessions is quite relaxed – we send out a general invitation to anyone who is interested to come to a teaching-related discussion on a topic of the day, and after a brief introduction to some key current research, throw it open to the floor for discussion. Frequently, the conversation stirs up a range of viewpoints and through debate, and maybe even disagreement, attendees leave the room more informed than when they walked in. Not a bad way to spend a lunchtime once in a while.

For this particular Hot Topic, the objective is to find out if OERs are woefully underused, or if they are in fact growing in their impact on practice throughout higher education. For example, we’ll ask

  • Are educators in Ireland using OERs in practice (but maybe not calling them that)?
  • What kinds of barriers are preventing wider OER adoption and are they valid any more?
  • Are we missing a golden opportunity to create more OERs such as open textbooks, and if so why?

This is a chance to dig into current research in the area of OERs, hear from other academics who may have used or are thinking of using them, and talk to university colleagues about potential pitfalls and payoffs. Let’s see how it pans out.


Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2014). Opening the Curriculum: Open Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2014. Sloan Consortium. Available from:

OERRHub (2015): OERRH Survey Data 2013-2015 xlsx. figshare. Available from: http://dx.doi. org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1546584


2 thoughts on “Open Educational Resources – are we really open to the idea?

  1. Muireann O'Keeffe October 14, 2015 / 1:59 pm

    Clare, I will miss your Hot topic session on Thursday but I hear a lot of DCU people are interested and coming along. OER’s are certainly a hot topic but do educators get cold feet when it comes to using them?


  2. clarego October 14, 2015 / 2:02 pm

    Well the welcome will be warm so let’s hope we get some answers from the educators who come along! Sorry you can’t make it this time.


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